Lying sated in my lover’s arms, I remembered something, sat up and said, “Oooohhh…champagne…” and then, as I curled his damp chest hair around one finger—and I do so love chest hair—while he refilled my glass, I said: “Next week is Taboo Sex Week on SexyPrime.”
Teasingly, he replied, “And you thought of that now because…”
“Darling, really I don’t think of us as a taboo! It’s not like we grew up in the same city…”
“No,” he said, “or like our great-grandfathers were brothers….Oh, wait, they were!”
That was a long time ago. We are “distant cousins” (the Northern side of the family’s take on things) or “kissin’ cousins” (the Southern side). Some people, however, are shocked to learn that we share DNA as well as lust for one another—and a few whisper the “I” word: incest. No, it doesn’t feel incestuous, merely somewhat transgressive—especially when I glance at his family portrait gallery. Is that my Grand-Aunt Maude staring accusingly down at me? Why, no, it’s his Grand-Aunt Amelie….
“Second cousins can marry in every state,” said my lover, my cousin, my lawyer and then he swirled the tip of his tongue around my nipple and made it stand up all over again…
Incest is defined as sex between two persons who cannot legally marry because of their close relationship. Parent/child sex or any kind of adult/child sex is beyond taboo—it’s illegal and immoral. Incest, in all its forms, from the illegal to the mildly transgressive, is a recurrent theme in film and literature. Here are some of my picks if you want to get into the taboo mood:
One of 2009’s best literary novels, The Blue Bedspread by Raj Khmal Jha is an intense emotional and intellectual journey into the lives of two siblings in Calcutta. The story begins when the narrator’s sister dies in childbirth. After making arrangements for her baby, he writes the family’s history, all the secrets of a brother and sister who found shelter in one another from an abusive, alcoholic father and grim poverty. It is a beautiful book and one that led me to reflect upon other books of incestuous (illicit?) love. Have you noticed how often tragedy ensues?
V. C. Andrews wrote of incest in the best-selling phenomenon Flowers in the Attic. Many close relations have sex with one another, including an aunt and a nephew, in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s classic One Hundred Years of Solitude. In Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things—one of my favorite novels—fraternal twins have a singular and healing sexual experience. (Indian writers seem to handle this concept of healing sex between siblings better than others.) Another sister and brother are more than close in The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving, a favorite writer. Ian McEwan, James Ellroy, Jeffrey Eugenedes, Penelope Lively and so many other authors have pulled back the covers of the family beds.
The seething and searing incest film is surely the late director Louis Malle’s “Damage,” starring Jeremy irons and Juliette Binoche, based on Josephine Hart’s novel. But who can forget the scene in “Chinatown” where Jack Nicholson slaps the truth out of Fay Dunaway: “My sister, my daughter, my sister, my daughter?” Or Angela Lansbury’s incestuous relationship with her son in “The Manchurian Candidate?” And first cousins married in both “Gone With The Wind” and “The Godfather"—not to mention the royal families of Europe. Sex with your closer DNA. It’s everywhere.
“Phedre,” my lover/cousin/lawyer said, his hand caressing my vulva. “Helen Mirren as Phedre, lusting after her stepson Hippolytus and destroying her life and his. Magnificent!”
Yes, only the Greeks could turn a potential cougar romp into high tragedy. They channeled desire into melodrama—but, of course, great melodrama that still engages us.
“Netflicks this weekend,” I said.
“How about anal sex…” he asked, “…as long as we’re feeling transgressive?”
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